Fire Safety - Smoke Detectors

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Every year in the United States, about 4,000 people die in home fires. Most of these deaths occurred in homes that did not have a working smoke alarm.

In an effort to help reduce fire deaths and injuries across the nation the Borough of Quakertown is urging residents to install smoke alarms in their homes and inspect and maintain them on a regular basis. Working smoke alarms and sprinklers save lives.

Why should I have a working smoke alarm?
A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you are awake or sleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2003 – 2006, more than 66 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes without a working smoke alarm. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

What types of smoke alarms are available?
There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric. It cannot be stated definitively that one is better than the other in every fire situation that could arise in a residence.  Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different, yet potentially fatal fires, and because no one can predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor alarms.

What powers a smoke alarm?
Smoke alarms are powered by battery or they are hardwired into the home’s electrical system. If the smoke alarm is powered by battery, it runs on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium (“long-life”) battery. A back-up battery is usually present on hardwired alarms and may need to be replaced.  These batteries must be tested on a regular basis and, in most cases, should be replaced at least once each year (except for lithium batteries).

Are smoke alarms expensive?
Smoke alarms are not expensive and are worth the lives they can help save. Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms cost between $6 and $20. Dual sensor smoke alarms cost between $24 and $40.

Install smoke alarms in key areas of your home
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Many fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning, so the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.

Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking
A smoke alarm is just doing its job when it sounds while you are cooking or taking a shower with lots of steam.

If a smoke alarm sounds while you’re cooking or taking a shower with lots of steam, do not remove the battery. You should: 
    •Open a window or door and press the “hush” button 
    •Wave a towel at the alarm to clear the air, or 
    •Move the entire alarm several feet away from the location

Disabling a smoke alarm or removing the battery can be a deadly mistake.